Buyer's Guide: The State of Ebooks in 2014
This article is from the Book Business Buyer's Guide which is a publisher's reference on emerging technology in the book industry. You can find other Buyer's Guide Sections here:
Ebook & App Solutions
> The Nuts and Bolts of Ebooks and Apps
Digital Workflow & Conversion Services
While it may be a bit soon to say the ebook business has matured, it's definitely true to say it's finally outgrowing its awkward adolescence. Today, ebooks as we have come to know them are taken for granted. But the more important news is how many of our assumptions about them are being challenged. Here are a few of the highlights.
No Longer an Afterthought
Despite all the talk about how the ebook market has hit a plateau -- and it seems to have, for trade books -- it is now basically a given that most books, whether published in print or not, are also published as ebooks. Certain genres -- romance, sci-fi, etc. -- are dominated by ebooks. Some books are only published as ebooks now: see Karen Russell's well-regarded new Sleep Donation novella, which spans literary fiction and sci-fi. In almost every corner of publishing, ebooks are no longer speculative but rather clearly here to stay.
What this means is that publishers are evolving their workflows to create ebooks either along with or instead of print, rather than relying so much on post-print conversion.
The Backlist Bonanza
The frontlist is just the tip of the iceberg. Another thing the mainstreaming of ebooks has done is enable publishers to get much more value out of their backlist. While POD (print-on-demand) is important too, it was really ebooks that prompted publishers to revive all those otherwise languishing assets. Backlist ebooks are also getting a second life on subscription services like Oyster and Entitle.